Cape Town - A full blown industry strike is imminent in the bus passenger sector, warned the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa).
Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim announced in a statement on Friday that the union formally declared a dispute with the Bus Passengers Council.
"The [Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration] CCMA will be facilitating mediation on the 6th of March, after which a strike certificate may be issued. A full blown industry strike is now imminent because employers care more about profits than people."
Numsa is demanding a wage increase of 30% across the board and also a living wage of R15 000 per month for all workers. However, in the wake of these tough economic times, employers in the bus passenger sector have responded with an offer of just 4.5%.
"The response from employers is alarming, given that several bus transportation companies are guilty of abusing the basic conditions of employment," claimed Jim.
He alleged that companies such as Autopax, Buscor, PUTCO, Greyhound, Intercape, Golden Arrow, Mgqibelo expect drivers to work 18 hour days "but only pay them for half of that".
Jim said that Numsa members are also not being compensated for overtime and working on public holidays.
"Workers in the bus transportation sector are exposed to long working hours and poor working conditions, which puts both drivers and passengers at risk.
"Our workers and their families simply cannot exist on the low wages on offer whilst the executives in the sector reward themselves with millions."
Jim added that employers claim that the current economic climate means they can’t afford to increase salaries, however even when the industry was doing well, profits were never passed onto workers.
"The government has a duty to ensure that workers are paid fairly and that they are emancipated from apartheid colonial wages. The government can no longer justify the continued exploitation of our people. Our workers deserve a living wage, not just a minimum wage."
Numsa also reiterated its disdain with the national minimum wage deal and proposed changes to the right to strike.Read Fin24's top stories trending on Twitter: Fin24’s top stories